Sunday, December 16, 2018

5e: Two Paragraphs

"Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a realm called the Midwestern United States ~ specifically the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin ~ a group of friends gathered together to forever alter the history of gaming.
"It wasn't their intent to do so.  They were tired of merely reading tales about worlds of magic, monsters and adventure.  They wanted to play in those worlds, rather than observe them.  That they went on to invent Dungeons & Dragons, and thereby ignite a revolution in gaming that continues to this day, speaks to two things."

There are many reasons why historians write revisionist histories.  First and foremost it serves as a marketing tool.  It sounds so much better to argue that the inventors of something in the past were extrordinarily clever persons who conceived, in the moment, how great the thing they were doing was ... including all the effects of that thing right down to the moment that we are publishing 5th Edition D&D.  It makes us sound so much more proper that we are following in the footsteps of these great men, these amazing companions whose minds were such that they could see how their efforts were going to revolutionize the ~ ta ta ta DA! ~ the History ... ee ... ee ... ee ... of ... Gaming ... ng ... ng ... ng ...

Revisionism puts all those who look at the lines above and recognize that it is a load of codswallop and dringlespit in their place.  If I were to present another version of the above, say the accurate version, because I'm not writing the front two sentences of a Great Book like the 5th Edition Player's Handbook, immediately it looks as though just a disgruntled naysayer.  After all, if my version was true, it would be at the front of this great book.  Right?

As a supporter of an alternate view, I'm made illegitimate, simply because the publishers say so.  It doesn't matter that there is literally 40 years of documentation to argue the contrary of these two paragraphs, right down to the geography mentioned ... those children who come to this book over the next forty years will believe this book, and not the facts.  That's how revisionism works.  It encourages the future to destroy the past.

That is how Columbus became a national hero and how Pocahontas and John Smith became star-crossed lovers.  It is how Santa Claus was reinvented.  Revisionism works.  It takes a lot of effort to kill it.

[okay, maybe I don't want to kill Santa Claus ~ but you get the idea]

What 5th Edition wants to sell is the propaganda that they are continuing the tradition of these great men with the rules that are contained in this book.  They want us to overlook that these rules are a blasphemy of that invention, a circumlocution of the principles upon which the history-altering game was based upon.  They want to have their present cake and they want us to eat it ... and, most likely, the hoi polloi will.  Because they don't know any better.

If I knew nothing else about 5th Edition D&D, these two paragraphs alone would be enough to throw this book across the room.  Instead, I'm going to read it, cover to cover, to see what I can learn.  I hope you don't mind; that is going to take a little time.  Don't expect me to keep silent.  Now with this sort of writing to look forward to.


JB said...

Oh, sweet Jesus. Good luck with that.

[wouldn't even bother with the 5E DMG, though]

ViP said...

I predict this experiment will yield results even more discouraging than you would expect, along with very entertaining posts.

Johnn Four said...

I look forward to your series of observations and thoughts on the 5E PHB!

"these rules are a blasphemy of that invention, a circumlocution of the principles upon which the history-altering game was based upon"

Can you go into a bit more detail on that, or point me to post(s) that do?

Fuzzy Skinner said...

If I had to sum up the 5th Edition PHB, I'd say that it does fix some of the problems of 3rd Edition... but I don't give a huge corporation brownie points for "fixing" problems they created in the first place.

It also adds a bunch of new problems (or at least carries them over from prior editions), but that goes without saying. And considering the proliferation of skilled fantasy artists in the last 40 years, some of the art is just inexcusably bad.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The reason I did not do so in the post, Johnn, is that taking a stand against the company's version of the events in these two paragraphs plays into the hands of the revisionist. If you're truly interested, I would suggest reading the opening preface of the original DM's Guide, any of about 200 articles in the first hundred issues of the Dragon Magazine circa 1976 to around 1980, as well as anything written from the Old School Renaissance crowd (of which I am definitely not one, since I think everything except for the original three AD&D books is mostly shit ~ plus I've re-written most of the rules, monsters, classes, spells and substance from those three books).

The ongoing "revolution that is going on until today" consists of the removal of rules, the removal of death, the removal of stress and strain, the removal of risk-fail/reward play, the removal of table conflict, the removal of personalized DMing and the removal of the use of human thought in game design. That should be pretty obvious to anyone who has done their homework.

Drain said...

Spoiler: Get ready for a whole book consisting of "Griffins and whatnot".

Even though my own efforts run around adapting it due to its sole relative virtue of simplicity, I can spit in my own dish, no problem:

Narrativism, fiat and GM pandering are actively promoted, consequences are defused and thinking is deemphasized by the very structure of the rules (or lack thereof).

5E grabs the virtues of simplicity and runs with them well past the south border. A simple game for simple pleasures, well and truly aimed at people who think food grows on supermarkets.

Johnn Four said...

I've got a near complete Dragon collection and have been waiting for the right moment to start reading them cover to cover. Snicker snack!

However, I have not read my 1E DMG since high school. That's just bad form. I'll add that to my queue.